History of the Park
At the time of the first contact with Europeans in the early 17th century, the Anishinabe live in the area, just like their descendants still do today. Although the first settlers hope to live from the land with agriculture, the rocky soil convinces them to turn to resource-based activities instead, including hunting, fishing, forestry and mining.
In the late 1800s, a growing number of outdoor enthusiasts start adopting these wild hills near the city, while other, more affluent people, build cottages. William Lyon Mackenzie King is among them. He starts by building a small cottage and, over the next decades it turns into an estate when he assumes the position of Prime Minister.
The Great Depression of the 1930s forces pioneer families to engage in new economic activities. In particular, cutting and selling firewood comes into conflict with the Park’s recreational values sought by vacationers.
In 1938, the government acquires the first parcels of land that will later constitute Gatineau Park. And so, the purpose of this green space goes from resources exploitation, to conservation and recreation. Over the decades, this new park for local residents not only becomes a place for recreation, but also a major employer, as well as an economic development tool. We even see the commitment of residents through all their volunteer work.
Today, the Park offers visitors the opportunity to indulge in a variety of activities that include cycling, hiking, swimming and camping.
With the pressure on the ecosystem of the Park caused by the growing number of visitors, there has been a gradual movement towards environmental-protection as a priority. The evocative landscape of Gatineau Park, visible from the heart of the Capital, reminds visitors of the vast natural greens spaces of Canada.